Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Budget Wardrobe Building Take Two

As I sat down to write the next post on this topic of budget wardrobe building, I found myself about to give you a list of the must have "basics," but then I realized I wasn't really starting from the beginning, or the beginning as it occurred in my own building process. Then I began to wonder if I had gotten ahead of myself by starting this show with a color post. Well, I can't turn back time, but I will do the next best thing  - start over!  I drew a little outline of what I consider to be the planning and building process. And then it dawned on me, maybe I should start by sharing this list with the readers, and then expand on it gradually. It goes something like this:

Building a Wardrobe on a Budget
1. Decide to build rather than collect 
2. Clean out the closet
3. Organize the closet
4. Determine what type of wardrobe (s) you need (ex. business, personal casual)
5. Take stock of what you have 
      - Play dress up 
      - Take notes and pics
6. Choose 1 or more color story 
7. Make two lists: Need and Want (based on activities, pieces already owned, season)
8. Determine a budget and timeline
9. Prioritize lists
10. Browse retail sources (start at high end) to familiarize with pieces
11. Think outside the box to buy
      - Thrift store
      - Resale Stores (like Clothes Mentor) 
      - Consignment Shops
      - eBay
      - Sales (sign up for email notifications from retailers you like)
      - Buy out of season

So, I'm starting this series over (I can do that, right? Ah, humility...), and I will spend some time talking about each of the things on the list. Now that you have a framework, you can get started on your own if you wish, or move at a more leisurely pace with me. What do you think? Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beauty Under a Buck

Cosmetics can be so expensive, and if your makeup budget isn't big, finding new products can be daunting. Recently, my sister-in-law told me about the e.l.f. Eyeshadow Primer, and I had just seen it here, so during a visit to Target I made my way to the cosmetics aisle. Alas, the primer was out of stock, but I did come away with two other very inexpensive items that I would recommend.

The first is the e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip ($1), which comes in six shades. It is described on the e.l.f. website as:
a multipurpose, on-the-go whipped highlighter packed with Vitamin E to instantly brighten and soothe skin with no greasy after-feel. Ideal for using on your cheeks, lips, eyelids or anywhere you would like a radiant pop of shimmering color. 
Maybe you are like me, a minimalist when it comes to makeup, and have never used highlighter before. If so, this might be a good intro product. The purpose of highlighter is to highlight the areas that the sun would kiss first, literally the higher points of the face. I applied it just below my eyes / just above my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. It was subtle and not too "shimmery." [A little bit intimidated by blush and highlighter? Check out this great video tutorial for a natural look] I also applied it on my eyelids while I was already wearing black eyeliner and mascara. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it looked really nice, more pearly than pink on my lids, and was subtle enough to be an appropriate day look. I would caution against wearing  it on the lips; it was much too light, or atleast the shade I tried (Lilac Petal). I was initially skeptical about a product that claimed it could go "anywhere" (and it shouldn't), and I  wouldn't say it really "pops," but I think it's actually better that way. Two thumbs up.


The second product is the e.l.f. Essential Shimmer Eyeliner Pencil in Black Bandit, also $1. In the words of e.l.f.:
Instantly brighten eyes with e.l.f. Cosmetics shimmering metallic liners that put the spotlight on eyes. The smooth formulation glides on effortlessly without tugging at the delicate eye area. Choose from an assortment of 9 vibrant shades designed to add depth, definition and a special sparkle to create a very glamorous look! Pencil includes a convenient sharpener cap for easy use!
I am not a sparkle and shine kind of girl when it comes to makeup, so I was pleasantly surprised with this product as well. The color glides on easily, doesn't run or smudge unless you want it to (important for ladies like me who have naturally dark under eye circles), and is subdued enough for day wear (at least in the shade I purchased). I haven't tried the sharpener cap yet, but I will keep you posted on how that works out. This is a reliable and inexpensive product to have in the makeup bag. Again, two thumbs up!


Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Bridal Registry Edition

For today's 7 Quick Takes, I'd like to share with you seven items that I either received before my wedding or came across after, that I wholeheartedly recommend for any new bride. So, if you are getting married soon and are at a loss when it comes to creating your registry, or shopping for the bride who has everything, hopefully you will find some inspiration here!








From the top, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook. Never ironed a pair of men's pants before? Martha's got you covered. Not sure how to clean those granite countertops, that's there, too. As in most things she does, efficient perfection is the name of the game, as Martha covers all the bases of "Homekeeping" (is that a mixed metaphor?).

Next up, also from the queen of clean, is a subscription to Food Everyday. For under $15, the bride to be will receive 10 issues full of easy dinner recipes that are classy without being elitist (if you know what I mean), and quick articles / recipes on such topics as Wine BasicsHow To: Perfect Omelets, and Sunday Dinner (with a Monday menu utilizing leftovers). Beautiful pictures and easy instructions seal the deal on this one as a winner.

Moving on from Martha, let's talk about Dutch ovens. I use my Dutch oven almost everyday; it can go stovetop or in the oven. My husband jokes that if he would have known, we wouldn't have registered for all those "other things!" Le Creuset is the undisputed creme de la creme, but I actually didn't think to register for one, so post wedding I went on a search. When I came across an article in the ever authoritative Cook's  Illustrated magazine that rated this one a close second I was on it. I love my Tramontina, and it was a fraction of the cost. The price has increased since I paid $35 for this piece (unbelievable, I know!), but $59.97 still comes in way under the Le Creuset MSRP of $345.

The next one, a basic tool kit, I received from my sisters. It has been so helpful. Hanging pictures, using a wrench to fix that leaky faucet (don't worry, Martha tells you how to do that in Homekeeping, above),  and a thousand other little things, these tools are so darn handy!

Serving ware, that's number five. Some great looking serving ware can make the simplest of fare elegant and special (presentation is at least 70% of the equation...). We chose basic white because we already had some white Pfaltzgraff pieces that we had inherited. It was a great decision; it is simple, elegant, it lets the food shine and is easily mixed and matched. 

Luxurious bedding. Go for the highest thread count available, just do it. The "marital bed" is worth it. And pick a color that looks good on you. I'm blushing already; enough said!

And the last, one, oh I hesitate to include it, but what the hell... The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Let me begin with a disclaimer: I don't agree with every thing the good doctor says, I haven't read her other books, and I don't listen to her radio show because it annoys me. So why am I recommending her book? Because she challenges the individual reader to evaluate certain harmful attitudes and the behaviors that flow from them, and it places the power to impact change with the reader. Many marriage books seem to point out things that aren't good for marriage but that require both partners to get on board for change.  Rather than reading a book that tells you its bad to have a TV in your bedroom and makes you angry with your husband (because he put a TV in your bedroom), I think its better to focus on how you can effect change by changing yourself. And as a final word, I can imagine a chorus of feminine voices rising up to complain that Dr. L. is too hard on women, etc., etc. My response is that she is hard on women because she is writing advice for women. If she was to write for men, she would be equally tough (or should I say caustic?), because that is just her style. 

Are you married? What bridal shower or wedding gift have you found indispensable? Please leave me a comment below, or find with my sisters on Facebook and share some love!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A True [Color] Story

Last Wednesday, we began discussing color in wardrobe building, specifically building around a color story. I love it when people give real examples of how a principle is applied, so I'm going to do the same here. I am currently planning my transitional and warm weather wardrobe, partially because I have the winter blahs and partially because I'm building on a budget. I have a cool complexion, so I have chosen white and black as my neutrals, dark gray as my dominant color (though gray is actually a neutral), and light pink and camel are splitting duties as my complementary color. 

My two primary sources of inspiration for this color story are the Dior Autumn/Winter 2012 RTW collection (see the first pic below) and the basics that I have already in my wardrobe. Many of the basic neutral pieces are from previous seasons; some I have picked up over the winter by shopping the sales. I am still looking for more pink to add color. The images below are representative of pieces in my actual wardrobe, to help you visualize the possibilities of the color story (i.e. my pink platform sandals are from a department store, rather than Prada, and my leather tote is from Banana Republic, not this $430 version from Alexandra Satine).

Also, on an aside, this is a good time to talk about reading the runway. You may think that the wardrobe I am working on bears similarity only in color, but there is more if you look carefully. Notice that the models are wearing fitted jackets, not dissimilar from the black blazer I purchased last spring. Notice the heels with platforms. I couldn't find an exact image, but the platforms I purchased at the end of the season actually have more of a heel and a thicker strap (closer in appearance to the ones in the Dior show). Some of these similarities actually occurred subconsciously, possibly a bit of proof that fashion really is "in the air." 














What do you think of this color story? What's your story?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Doldrums and Creature Comforts

I don't know about you, but every year around this time I begin to feel blah. You can chalk it up to the short, gloomy days, the frigid cold, the cabin fever, the "post-Christmas austerity measures" (thank you, Cari, for that great expression!), or the dwindling of the Asian rhino population... Wherever you pin the tail, the donkey remains, so to speak, so what is to be done? If you can't beat the season, embrace it! The two best ways to do this are to make fun outside and cozy inside. Since you probably already know your outside options (sledding, skiing, etc., etc), let's skip right to the part about making home cozy. Let me tell you the ways...

De-cluttering. If you are stuck inside for long periods of time, the level of order in your house can really affect your attitude. Throw out old newspapers, clean off the mail, etc. that gathers on the table, walk through the house and simply put things back where they go. It sounds like such a small thing, but it can really make a big difference!

Candles, candles, candles. Have kids? Put them up high! Nothing is more flattering and soothing than the soft flickering of candlelight. Even if it is just a row of cheap votives on the mantel, candles really impart a sense of warmth and luxury.

Pleasing aromas. Make the candles scented, do some baking, or put on a pot of soup to create pleasant smells in your home. Coming in from the cold to the trinity of warmth, light, and the smell of something appetizing can make one grateful to be alive!

Warm beverages. Indulge in hot cocoa, or something stronger.

Heavy beers. If you have read my blog for very long, you know that I am a huge fan of heavy beers (okay, maybe all beers...). Winter is the perfect time to enjoy the richer styles of beer such as barley wines, porters, stouts, and strong ales.

Music. I find that I listen to mood music much more frequently when the weather is cold, maybe because my mood needs more assistance. Personal preference rules here, but if Yellow makes you teary on the best of days, I would avoid it (I don't know anything about this, as I personally am a stalwart wall of un-sentimentality. Right.).

Meditation. Nothing can make your home seem cozier and welcoming than a little inner peace. I know that not all of you readers are Catholic, feel free to skip this suggestion if you don't want it. For everyone else... I recently stumbled upon a recording of the Rosary by the Daughters of St. Paul. I have a really hard time saying the Rosary, but I absolutely love this version. If you are feeling anxious, worried, stressed, or fearful, try saying the Sorrowful mysteries. The meditations are both beautiful and consoling. I also recently downloaded this app, which seems to be basically the same as the cd version.

What do you do to create a little cozy and beat the winter blues? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Coco Quote

I know, I know, I promised you a post today... My 7 Quick Takes weren't going to be that quick, and after some technical difficulties yesterday and an emergency room visit today, it's not going to happen.  Instead, I give you one of my new favorite quotes, and bid you good weekend!

"I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny." 
                                                    - Coco Chanel

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Budget Wardrobe Building: COLOR

Welcome to the first post in our newest series: Budget Wardrobe Building. In today's post, we are going to talk about one of the most fundamental elements of wardrobe building - color. When building a wardrobe on a limited budget, it is very important that you are able to create many looks from a limited number of items. One key to doing this successfully is planning your wardrobe according to a color story. A color story is a defined group of colors around which you build your wardrobe. In her book, It's So You, Mary Sheehan Warren recommends using two neutrals, a dominant color, and a complementary color. But before you start mentally rearranging your closet, let's cover some color basics.

The first step in talking color for your wardrobe is to determine the palette of colors that look best on you personally. At its most basic level, this means a cool palette or a warm one. For those new to color analysis, see this simple explanation.

Once you know if you are cool or warm, think of some other factors. Consider the type of wardrobe (business wardrobe for work, or a casual one), the season (spring, summer, winter or fall), and your location. Take a look through your closet. Do you already have a color story? If so, do you like it? Or maybe just parts of it? 

Begin by choosing your neutrals. This part is easy because the number of neutrals is fairly limited. Neutrals that look best against cool complexions are black, white, and various shades of grey. Neutrals that work well with warm complexions are cream and variations of brown. If you are on a really tight budget, I recommend trying to work with at least some of what you've got going on already, especially in the more expensive items. For example, if all of your cool weather shoe options are black, definitely include black as one of your color story neutrals.

Now, to choose the dominant and complementary colors. One way to go about choosing your color story is to be inspired by something around you. Maybe it is a favorite painting, a fashion collection, or your environment. Or you could look to some of the tried and true methods of color theory, methods of relating colors that are visually pleasing. In addition to aiding the creation of a color story, these methods might help you discover outfits that you have never even considered. Bonus?  You will probably find this info very helpful when making home decorating decisions! So here we go.

The first pairing method is to use analogous colors, that is, colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel (see Example 1). A second way to create an interesting combination is to use colors that are opposite each other; these colors are called complementary (see Example 2). A third combination is the use of monochromatic colors. A group of colors is considered monochromatic if it consists of the shades, tones, and tints that are possible from one color (by the addition of black, white, and grey, respectively) (see Examples 3 and 4).









For more color inspiration, check out this site. I just chanced across it the other day and I have to admit, I'm in love. Select any color from the list on the right to view various color stories including that color, and an outfit demonstrating each story.

It might seem a bit constricting at first, but building your wardrobe (however loosely) around a color story has many benefits. It will make creating outfits much easier; most likely you will be able to achieve a "pulled together" look effortlessly, as the pieces of your wardrobe work together smoothly. You will also need less, because you will get more use out of each article, thus saving you money and space! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

What I Wore... Outside My Comfort Zone

A couple of months ago I asked you good readers for post ideas. One of them turned into a post about how mama got her groove back. Another reader suggested, "I'd love to read about a time you got out of your comfort zone and tried a new style/broke one of your fashion rules." Well, I don't have too many rules; I subscribe more to guidelines that are flexible to extenuating circumstance... I also like new styles; I can usually tell right off the bat if something is me and if it is also flattering. If not, I throw it aside with nary a second thought. But, as much as I hate to admit it, I do have a comfort zone, and every once in a great while I come up against an outfit that challenges it. In the last year, I've been trying to err on the side of boldness. If the outfit is a flop, I still went for it (a good thing) and all that is lost is a bit of pride (also a good thing, the losing it, I mean).  

So what's the story with this outfit, you say? My brother gave me this beautiful alpaca cloak a couple of years ago. It is soft, light, warm and super luxurious. Yet I haven't worn it much. Why? Partially because it kept falling open, making it inconvenient and negating its warming properties. And partially because no one around is wearing anything like it (at least not in my neighborhood, literally and metaphorically speaking). I realized I could overcome the first issue by belting it with one of my husband's leather belts (don't tell), and the second, by an attitude adjustment. What do you think?

My comfort zone (or one of them)...

and beyond.

I would love to hear from the readers on this one: How would you answer the post prompt above? You can leave your comments in the combox, or you can post it on the with my sisters Facebook page (please hit like, if you haven't, to stay updated via Facebook). I appreciate each and every comment!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Guest Post: Ana Jorda on Lincoln and Les Mis

Today we have a guest with us, a certain Ana Jorda. I have known Ana at a distance for years; she is the mother of one of my dearest friends. Recently, I happened upon her new blog, sunsettling, and I immediately fell in love with her writing style. Terse and poetic, slightly reminiscent of Nicole Krauss, it's the style I would choose to write myself, if such things were left up to the individual and not to God. Without further ado:

Hadn't been in a movie theatre for a year. Just saw two films in one week. Lincoln and Les Miserables. Two different impacts.


Lincoln. Coolest intensity. Different shades of grays. Plus lots of white and black. Tremendous acting. Main and secondary actors surpassing one another. Close ups. Unapologetic ageing faces. Ode to Age. To Wrinkles. Life's maps. Some might say a man's movie. Mostly male actors. War plus the politics of war. Although Lincoln's wife made herself noticed. Yelling, crying. Strong, bossy witty. Force of nature. This a film for men and women. Abolition of slavery linked to the end of civil war a story for all. Lots of dialogue. Chaos, battles on the field and off. Surprise, humor, intelligence, stength, frailty, tenderness. Someone knows what to do with a camera, script, actors. With a team that put together a story fit to be told. Century's spiritual state of the country. Hollywood still able to deliver. When it wants to.


Les Miserables a.k.a as Les Mis. Americans abbreviate French word that only French can pronounce to catchy cool nickname. Les Mis another impact. Different. Explosion. Of color. Passion. Heart wrenching intensity. More close ups. Top actors. Young, beautiful. But miserable. Ode to Misery. To the Poor. And they can sing. Captivating song after song. Telling compelling story. Bravo to all. Lovestruck girl with tiniest waist. Fantines's devastating disillusionment. Inspector's inner torture. Bravo to actors-singers. No easy feat. Brutal aesthetics in more ways than one. Not for the faint of heart. Last but not least, a spiritual film. No fear here calling God by name. Portraying priest compassionate imitator of Christ. Setting tone for storyline. Thief turned mayor main spiritual character throughout - good looking man of God. Bravo Hollywood for being true to V. Hugo.

Thought most films today not worth seeing.
These two proved me wrong.
New Year surprise.
Still the right stuff out there.

Happy New Year. Go see them!

About Ana: Spanish/English teacher interpreter-translator, author, poet, mom, nana as in Ananana, daughter, friend, occasional piano player and photographer, early bird who lived in different countries-cultures, traveled, learned four languages and can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

High Waisted Pants and Seeing Outside the Store

How do you feel about high waisted pants (why does that sound like some drug and/or alcohol reference...)? Personally, I like them, because they can do two great things to one's figure. First, because they hit at the narrowest point of the waist, they give the illusion of a tiny waist and a more hourglass-like figure. Secondly, they extend the line of the leg more than any other cut, giving the illusion of height and legs that don't stop. Add a pair of heels, and you've got the next best thing to growing a few inches and shedding a few pounds! 

As much as I love said pants, I usually have a difficult time finding the proper fit - if good at the waist they are too short to be worn with heels. This cotton pair at Net-A-Porter would probably fit correctly (based on the measurements given), but even at 40% off, they are not within my wardrobe budget. Plus, I'm not much of a dry clean only kind of girl. Imagine my utmost delight when I found the vintage pair that I am sporting below at a mere fraction of the cost, literally, at 1/100 the sale price of the other pair. Price aside, they are a machine washer friendly polyester blend. Polyester gets a lot of grief, but it really holds color beautifully and maintains a pleat while being wrinkle resistant. 

I paired them with a simple black v-neck tee and basic accessories to keep the look modern - I don't want to look like I fell off the time machine somewhere between 1975 and 1976! What do you think? How would you style these pants?


Now maybe you are wondering why I bothered to bring up the Net-A-Porter pair of pants in the first place. Other than to brag, that is. I did so, because beyond the benefits of high waisted pants, I want this post to impart to you a lesson about thrifting. Let's call the lesson: See outside the store. This is the key to recognizing the brag worthy finds! If something catches your eye in the Goodwill, close those eyes and envision it elsewhere. Forget about the unglamorous racks of used clothing and picture it with a pair of killer heels, or your favorite jeans. If you can imagine yourself wearing it with swagger in your walk and a glint in your eye, it's probably a keeper. It might even give Net-A-Porter a run for its money...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A New Series on the Way...

Do you wish that you had more resources so that you could hire a personal stylist or buy the wardrobe of your dreams? Yes, I admit, that would be nice, but more money is not the only solution for a dysfunctional wardrobe, and not even necessarily the best solution.  I want to tell you that you have an even more valuable resource - yourself, your intelligence and your creativity. Looking your best is not some magical intuition, rather, it is first knowing yourself and knowing how to make what you've got look its best, and second, knowing how to plan a wardrobe that functions for you. I have already covered the first part in a series of four posts that you can find hereherehere, and here. If you really read, absorb, and apply the info that you find in these posts, you can truly be your own personal stylist!

Now for the second part... Maybe your closet contains a little bit of this and a little bit of that, which you can't really seem to meld into workable outfits. Maybe it is dominated by one or two colors, or maybe it has no apparent unity. Maybe you have tons of clothing that you never wear, and possibly don't even like. Once you know what really makes you look your best, it's time to intentionally build a wardrobe. Building a working wardrobe is a life long process, but I want to give you some pointers to set you on your way. Starting next week, keep your eyes out for a new series: Budget Wardrobe Building!

I'm a self taught style boss. You can be one, too.
[This photo is to indicate how fun it is to be your own style boss...]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Not a What I Wore...

I was going to post a What I Wore Sunday or possibly a What I Wore on My Anniversary Dinner Out (WIWOMADO), but today turned into more of a What I Wore to Urgent Care kind of day, so I decided to take things in a different direction. You may have caught this post. If you didn't, check it out.   A good (and well dressed) friend of my husband and I, a certain Vinson, made some interesting and insightful comments on said post.  I will reprint them here for your enjoyment. And, for context, he currently calls Vienna home.

Vinson wrote:

I think Italian men have more of a masculine sense of style then the Austrians. In Italy they call it sprezzatura. It's a like an intentional casualness in their dress. They know they could look better, but they restrain. Look at the gentleman in the third picture with the grey suit and the sneakers. The juxtaposition is prime example of this. Good blog Mary! Love it!

I responded:

Thank you for commenting, Vinson! I've noticed sprezzatura, but I could never put a name to it; thank you for that, too! How would you classify your style? How has it changed since living in Europe exclusively?

And Vinson replied:

Mary, thanks for the comment to my comment :-) I would say that my style can be defined as modern classic. I love men's style in which you can't pinpoint the eact time period. In addition I would throw in the word Americana. I think that living in Europe has actually given me a greater appreciation of classic American style (i.e. repp ties, Levis, navy blazers), but with the European fit (tailored and cut to fit close to the body). Can I use the term, modern-classic-Americana?

I think since living here I have also come to respect dressing for the occasion and venue. This is obviously assuming you don't wear flip flops and t-shirts everwhere (unacceptable in Rome). I have noticed that Europeans (esp. Italians) tend to do better is wear appropriate attire for the right place and time. For example, if you are in the country you wear tweeds and flannels and heavily brouged footwear. If you are in the city, you stick to dark, simpler and slimmer fitting pieces. I like this mentality and it brings you back to a time where gentlemen dressed like gentlemen and life in the ascetic sense was (in my opinion) a bit more refined and beautiful. :-)

And then I said:

Wow, what a great answer... so many things to respond to! I think you have summed up your style quite nicely! I like how you give a nod to the best of American style. It seems to me that these really good "Americana" elements have been popping up more in European fashion, and the more European streamlined silhouette has been gaining traction here in the States - a melding of sorts seems to be occurring between the two extremes of men's fashion. I love it. 

Dressing for the occasion is a great topic! It seems to me that much of the youth [ re-reading this, I realize how old this statement makes me sound!] here view that as an imposition and offense against self expression, where really it is just the opposite! I too, love dressing according to environment, occasion, and "what is in the air." I sense a post topic here...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Scent of a Woman

You may remember that I believe every lady needs a signature cocktail; I also believe that perfume is a rite of passage and each woman needs a signature scent.  Perfume, according to the ever elegant Coco Chanel, “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.” If it is not enough that the high priestess of style has spoken, consider that attention to personal aroma is a gift we give to those around us. Read on for some fragrance facts and how to's on choosing and wearing a signature scent.

In women's fragrance there are four common categories of scent which are based on the concentration of perfume oil they contain. The higher the oil concentration, the stronger the scent and the longer it will remain. From greatest concentration to lowest, they are:

Perfume (or Parfum): 25% or higher
Eau de Parfum: 15-18% 
Eau de Toilette: 10%
Eau de Cologne: 5% 

Another factor to bear in mind is that perfumes are comprised of three fragrance notes, a metaphorical reference to musical notes that stand individually and combine harmoniously to form the whole.  In reference to fragrance, these notes are referred to as top, middle, and base notes and describe the progressive olfactory impression the scent makes. The notes, in a nutshell: 

Top: initial scent that dissipates within minutes
Middle (or Heart): scent that becomes apparent within 15 minute of application and may last an hour
Base (or Deep): scent that becomes apparent 30-60 minutes after application and comprises the longest lasting impression, up to a day.

Now that you know some of the basics, we come to the question of choosing the scent that's right for you. Perfumes are marketed to project a certain image - Chanel N5 is classy, Gucci Guilty is sexy, etc., etc. This knowledge may make you feel different, but it won't change the objective reality of the scent, so try to see beyond the marketing. Visit the perfume section of a beauty or department store. Based on what you know about the intensity and longevity of each category of fragrance, ask directions to what best fits your needs.  Use the tester to spray the paper strips the counter provides, and take a whiff to get a general impression. Don't sniff more than three or four, because your sense of smell will be overwhelmed and fatigued. Choose one you like, and spray it on your wrist and behind your ears. To get the best sense (pun) of the fragrance, wait a few hours so you can experience each of the notes. Trust your instincts. And those of your significant other or an honest friend.

Once you've chosen a scent, don't forget to be mindful of the venue. For everyday [work] wear, apply a little lighter than when going out. If your signature scent is very intense, consider applying it to your calves (as weird as that may sound). The greater distance to neighbors' noses might be what civility requires!

Bonus Track: Check out the fragrance wheel below to see how the perfume industry classifies the various scents found in perfumes. You don't really need to know this info to choose a signature scent, but it never hurts to have a vocabulary to communicate likes and dislikes!


Friday, January 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Miscellany Edition

Today's 7 Quick Takes are a true miscellany, a bit of this and a bit of that. Enjoy!

Well, the Mayans predicted that my 30th birthday would mark the end of the world. They were wrong. Maybe they didn't get the memo that 30 is the new 20.... 

While we are talking numbers, January 5 is my 5th anniversary. Amazing, but time flies when you're with the love of your life.

photo by simple heart photography, bokeh added

Enough about me, check out this pic of my dad, mixing plaids like a boss:

The key to making it work - the unifying blue in each of the prints and the hat.

As the Christmas season begins to wind down, you might be thinking about putting away the decorations. Every year I hear the tip about taking a pic of them to make next year's decorating easier. This year I finally did it! We went away for the holidays, so the decorations were minimal, but here is a little peek:

So I bought this NYX Chic Red lipstick for Christmas because it looked like a true red: 

However, it was more of a very deep pink when applied. I tried it on several different occasions in the hope that I was just seeing things; I wasn't. It was less than $4 at Ulta, and the color is nice and long wearing, so not all was lost. If anybody out there has a tried and true red, please let me know!

I had another post planned for today, but I haven't done a 7 Quick Takes in so long that I changed my mind. Stay tuned for the original post - Scent of a Woman. I'll put it up some time tonight or tomorrow.

Thinking about starting a new blog in the new year? Check out my posts on the writing process and some tips for taking the ever awkward outfit pics.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I Wore - Christmas Edition

You may have noticed the sparsity of posts in the last ten days. I was busy relaxing with my family in Indiana, and celebrating my birthday, Jesus', and the beginning of a new year. Now I'm back...

Yes, yes, I fully realize that it is January 2, and it's a bit late for a What I Wore Christmas Edition.  The lovely Grace, however, has by the power vested in her set the link up to remain open for another 300 odd days and I couldn't resist. As per usual, these are reenactments in the living room with little H taking the pics. 

Since I'm joining Camp Patton, I'll give your imagination a rest and oblige with a few more outfit details than usual:

Red shirt dress: Old Navy
Oxblood patent leather heels: Jones New York
Pearl studs: Christmas gift from the husband

What do you think?